“May none but honest and wise [wo]men ever rule under this roof.”
~ John Adams
1. US Capitol
As the seat of the legislative branch of the US government, the US Capitol Visitor Center is definitely a must-see for your student group. Ask your tour operator to arrange a guided tour for your group. And if you have time, check out the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.
2. Arlington Cemetery
Visit JFK’s gravesite. Watch the Changing of the Guard. Lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Arlington is a necessary and sobering experience, but one your group won’t want to miss. A wreath laying makes the visit even more special for your student group. Your tour company can reserve a wreath laying time for your group, but times are limited and first come, first-served. Please note, anyone over 16 years of age will need to present a valid photo id upon entrance.
3. Mount Vernon
George Washington’s estate, built in the 1730’s, is full of history. Located a little outside of DC, you should give your group a half day to explore the grounds and buildings.
4. Monuments and Memorials
Yes, I know this isn’t one site, but there are just so many to see and they’re FREE so your student group should soak up as many as you can. Roosevelt, Jefferson, MLK, Lincoln. WWII and Korean War and Vietnam Veterans Memorials. Many tour companies will opt to do an evening drive to see the memorials illuminated at night. But you may prefer to split up seeing them over the course of a few days and walk through each. The Washington Monument is also free, unless you want to go to the top. Then your group will need tickets.
5. Smithsonian Museums
Again, more than one, but definitely worth your time. Your group could feasibly spend a whole day exploring the various museums and if you do have the time, you should! But, like most groups, you’ll likely have to pick and choose which to visit. The American History Museum and the American Art Museum are always top picks. Or maybe you’d like to visit the newest addition to the Smithsonians and spend a few hours at the Museum of African American History and Culture. If you’re flying into or out of Dulles, the National Air and Space Museum (Udvar-Hazy), is a good place to stop.
For Performance Groups
Washington DC isn’t just great for educational tours. There’s plenty to see and do on a performance tour as well. Check out these sites and activities if you’re considering DC for your next performance trip.
1. The Kennedy Center
Catch a performance at this iconic venue, home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington National Opera. The event schedule is ever changing so check out what’s new when you’re in town.
2. US Marine Band Clinics and Masterclasses
For high school and university level groups, the chance to participate in masterclass with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
3. National Independence Day Parade
Experience the excitement of performing in this historic parade! Many tour companies specialize in arranging student tours with opportunities to perform built in.
4. Washington National Cathedral
As the world’s 6th largest Cathedral, a visit to the National Cathedral is always awe-inspiring. Visiting choirs are invited to apply to sing…And be on the lookout for the sculpture of Darth Vader.
5. Shakespeare Theatre Company
Workshops are available for all age groups and are a wonderful learning experience for any aspiring thespian. The Company offers a full schedule of live plays written by Shakespeare and other classical playwrights.